There are few things quite as lively, or amusing, as the imaginations of children. They create free of inhibition or discernible logic. Imagine if the things you blurted out as a child, or the things your children say, were turned into a story in front of your very eyes. This is what makes Absolute Improv Stories! such a brilliant idea, despite its craftily simple premise: an improv show, with one long narrative, made with the ideas of a child, rather than adult, audience.
In fact To Be Continued…, the company performing the show, are by no means remarkable improvisers but they are skilled, agile and enthusiastic enough to make a story fit together – no small task – and they have the most unusual, entertaining ingredients from which to do so.
The show is generated from a big map of ideas created by the children right at the start: a list of things they want, places they would like to visit, things that annoy them. All the things that could create antagonists, locations and props for a daring and surreal adventure. Today’s suggestions included ‘a portal to the end of the world’, ‘a diamond mansion with gold inside it’, ‘everything in the world made into a house’ and ‘horse poo’.
The kids love watching the actors busk it with ever more ludicrous ideas and, once the story starts, there are plenty of opportunities for them to join in with the improv, both verbally and onstage. It is astonishing to discover how many fluent Martian speakers happen to be in the room when the hero – a rabbit named Fluffy – needs volunteers to translate the alien language for him.
To Be Continued… always let the cracks show in their performance, always let the kids see what’s going on. They understand that children have a very different set of tastes to grown-ups. They like things big, silly and chaotic. Absolute Improv Stories! gives them all this and ends it with a song.